Travel Stress: What causes it and How to Avoid It?

The holidays are already stressful enough, the parties, gift giving, house guests, and all the events for the kids. Add to that mix traveling, and it can be enough to put you over the edge. But, it does not have to be that way. There are some simple, easy things you can do to make traveling a breeze and stress-free!

  1. Locate and Update Your Passport – Get your passport sorted as soon as you know you will need one. It always takes longer than you think it will, so allow adequate time for processing. Make a copy of your passport and store it in another location in case it is stolen or lost, that way you have something to work with while recovering it.
  2. Stay Organized- Get yourself a small folder to keep all travel related documents in one place. Nothing raises stress levels like hunting around for a document you absolutely have to have, and having no idea where it is.
  3. Label Your Luggage- Make your luggage stand out so you can easily find it in baggage claim and so no one else grabs your bag. Try bright luggage straps, luggage tags, and iron-on luggage tags. Do not forget to label the inside of your bag too, either a handwritten index card taped on top or try an iron-on label that is permanent. But don’t add your address, as that is a great way for thieves to find out where your empty house is.
  4. Pack Light- Chances are you will not need everything you think you do. Also, check ahead with the airline to see how many bags you are allowed and keep in mind the size as most airlines charge for any bags over 50 lbs.
  5. Carry-On Essentials- Remember to pack your passport, wallet, camera, toothbrush, and an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag should your luggage become lost.
  6. Pack an Extra Bag- If you plan on doing a lot of souvenir shopping, an extra duffle bag allows you to bring everything back an avoid paying extra money to ship the goods.
  7. Keep in Contact- Keep a list of contact numbers for friends, family, doctors, and the pet sitter back home in case any emergencies arise while you are away.
  8. Check in Advance- Reserve your seats ahead of time to ensure you can sit where you want and with your travel companions. Also, check that your flight is on time before you leave for the airport.
  9. Discount Calling Cards- Bring a pre-paid calling card to use from the hotel, so you do not get burned with the high charges. You can find low rate cards at warehouse clubs.
  10. Check the List- Type up a packing checklist once and save it on your computer so you can print it off when packing and not have to develop a new one every time you travel.
  11. Relax En-route – Get comfortable and support your back. Take a deep breath at the start and every 5 minutes
    and let it out slowly. Say the word ‘relax’ inside your head and let your shoulders, back and thigh muscles relax (possibly by tensing, and then letting this go). Let your hands relax on your seat rests.
  12. Think: “Safe” – Tell yourself: “it is safe to be travelling” and “the journey will be fine”. When you arrive, tell yourself “that was good”. Remember the chance you will have an accident is extremely low. Most people feel more in control when they drive – but, in fact, usually the risk of an accident is no different as a passenger or as a driver.
  13. Appreciate your senses – Remind yourself regularly that travelling is a pleasant and calm activity. Use the travel time to talk to fellow travellers and listen to your favourite radio station or musician. If you’re a passenger – look at the changing scenery.

Look out of the window now. What can you see?

  1. Make the journey productive – When you’re a passenger – distract yourself by spending some time thinking about something useful. Make a mental list of ‘things to do’ when you get back. Plan a trip or schedule some time on your hobby or relaxation. This is especially important if travelling with kids, if you can get them involved in a project it will make the drive go much faster.
  2. Enjoy a night out – If you’re driving to your destination, being on the road at night is no more risky than during the day…just different. Increase your confidence either as a driver or as a passenger by going out for a short 5 minute journey as soon as it gets dark e.g., 5pm (winter) or 9pm (summer). Relax after your long day and think ‘calm and safe’ thoughts. The bright car lights make your car and other cars easy to see and be seen.
  3. Don’t get too intimate – I mean with other cars! Keeping a reasonable distance between you and other cars is sensible and safe. Let other cars around you drive close to each other if they want. If someone is too close behind you – put your hazard lights on for 3 bleeps and they will move back. Next time you drive, think about leaving a larger gap between your car and other cars in front.
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